Unitree Robotics, a Chinese company, has been at it for years and has now announced its latest creation the Unitree Go1, a robust-looking four-legged bot with prices starting at just $2,700.
Go1 has been shown doing things like “following someone on a run” and “carrying a single bottle of water.”
More realistically, the robotics sector is still finding out the best applications for these sorts of machines. For example, Boston Dynamic’s four-legged robot Spot is presently being tested in sectors like industrial inspections and police reconnaissance (with mixed results). Unitree, on the other hand, said it wants quadrupedal robots to be as affordable and popular as smartphones and drones.
The Go1 is available in three versions: $2,700 for the Go1 Air, $3,500 for the Go1, and $8,500 for the Go1 Edu. Each weighs around 12 kgs (26 pounds), with greater processor power and sensors on the more expensive models (the Go1 Edu is the only version with an unspecified programming API). While automatic person-following and obstacle avoidance appear to be standard, only the more expensive models reach the advertised top speed of 17 kilometers per hour.
Unitree has not made any statements about the battery life of these bots. Given that Spot only has enough power for 90 minutes of operation, the “all-day companion” model suggested by the Go1 demo video should be taken with caution.
Technology like these demonstrates that quadrupedal robots are quickly turning from novelties to commodities. The main question is whether they can be useful or if they will simply carry our water for years.